Refugee crisis to cost Austria €1 billion in 2016

The spiralling refugee crisis will cost Austria €1 billion ($740 million) in 2016, the finance ministry announced on Wednesday, as the country expects 85,000 new asylum-seekers by the end of this year.

Refugee crisis to cost Austria €1 billion in 2016
Refugees arriving at Westbahnhof station. Photo: Caritas

Average spending per asylum-seeker is set to rise to €10,724 next year, up from €9,593 in 2014, according to the latest available figures.

The total cost will represent 0.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to 0.1 percent this year, Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling said in his annual budget report to the European Commission.

Despite the extra burden, Austria's public deficit would nevertheless stay well below the European Union's prescribed ceiling of 3.0 percent of GDP, Schelling added.

The largest chunk — around €565 million — will go toward basic care measures like housing, food and health insurance, as well as work and integration programmes.

A further €345 million has been earmarked for individual Austrian states as they face unprecedented costs of handling the refugee influx.

Austria has seen more than 200,000 migrants enter the country since the beginning of September, most of whom travel onwards to Germany or Scandinavia.

But this year's surge in asylum requests has made the Alpine country of 8.5 million people one of the highest recipients of migrants in Europe on a per-capita basis.

The continent's biggest migration crisis since World War II has reignited a long-standing EU debate about the bloc's budget rules.

Last month, Schelling made a plea for the European Commission to apply a special clause in the EU's Stability and Growth Pact allowing the deficit ceiling of 3.0 percent of output to be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.

But Germany — which expects 800,000 refugees this year — rejected the calls, saying the refugee crisis should be kept separate from the debate over national budgets.


Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

International business owners in Vienna bring in billions of euros in revenue and taxes each year, according to a recent survey by the Chamber of Commerce.

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna's economy

New figures show that Vienna’s international entrepreneurs do more than simply boost diversity in Austria’s capital city – they also significantly contribute to the local economy.

The Wirtschaftskammer (Chamber of Commerce) has revealed that business owners in Vienna with a migration background generate € 8.3 billion in revenue and create around 45,500 jobs.

Plus, these companies pay around € 3.7 billion every year in taxes and duties, reports ORF.

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Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said: “Companies with a migrant background not only enrich the diversity of the corporate landscape in Vienna, they are also an economic factor.”

Ruck added that more than 200 international companies move to the capital each year and said the diversity is helping Vienna to financially recover from the pandemic. 

The Chamber of Commerce considers a business owner to have a migration background if they were not born in Austria and/or they have a non-Austrian nationality.

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According to ORF, there are 34,000 entrepreneurs in Vienna with a migration background and 7,400 of those business owners have Austrian citizenship.

Additionally, 4,500 business owners have Slovakian nationality, 3,800 are from Romania and 2,600 have German citizenship.

The most popular business sector for people in Vienna with a migration background is retail, followed by real estate and technical services.